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Kitec piping class action noticeKitec® Piping & Connector Leak Causes & Lawsuit Settlement
Kitec® tubing composition, patent history, leaks, litigation, lawsuit settlement, advice

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Leaks in Kitec aluminum-PEX plastic water supply piping:

Kitex® tubing was sold in Canada and the United States (and possibly other countries) for a wide range of applications including pressurized potable water piping and heating water piping for radiant heat floor systems. Leaks in the piping system ultimately led to class action litigation and a settlement.

This series article describes the causes of damaged or leaky buried plastic water pipe & resulting poor water pressure, poor water flow, or water leaks in water piping between a well or municipal water service main & the building.



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Kitec® PEX Plastic Pipe Fitting Leaks, Identification, & Class Action Settlement Details

Kitec pipe cross section view from Meacham (2003) patent

Kitec PEX plastic piping was / is a composite tubing produced by IPEX and consisting of an aluminum tubing laminated between two layers of polyethylene or PEX of various compositions described by several U.S. Patents cited below.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Article Contents

Composition of Kitec Tubing or Piping

Quoting from two U.S. patents related to Kitec:

To produce this tubing, an aluminium strip is formed, overlapped and then ultrasonically welded. Layers of polyethylene are then applied with an adhesive to form a bond with the aluminium tubing. The result is a tubing that does not rust, corrode or tuberculate. Fittings are commercially available for use with this composite tubing ... - MacDuff, James (2000)

[Kitec® tubing shown in cross-section as Fig. 8] which is flexible and coilable, showing it's thin walled core pipe ... - Meacham (2003)

Meacham's figure above, edited for clarity by InspectApedia, shows a cross-section of the three concentric sections of Kitec tubing. Flexible outer and inner layers 62 and 64 in the illustration are made of resilient and flexible non-metallic portions coating the exterior and interior of a thin-walled flexible metallic pipe-66.

The Kitec piping system included both the flexible tubing collection of brass plumbing fittings & connectors intended for use with PEX type plastic piping. Kitec, also in some sources spelled Kyetec is a brand of brass plumbing fitting that was recalled in 2005 by its manufacturer, IPEX, due to its tendency to quickly corrode. - includes adaptations from Wikipedia [30]

Why Kitec Used an Aluminum Core

While we could not find in research an explicit citation naming Kitec's use of aluminum, Bowman (1993) and Siegenthaler (1996) point out that polyolefin plastics used in PEX and similar products allow gases, such as oxygen, to diffuse through the material. Aluminum was described by Siegenthaler as a nearly-perfect oxygen barrier.

Kitec Leaks Led to Litigation

Kitec plastic pipe fitting corrosionLeaks, corrosion, and blockages occurring at the metal fittings used with Kitex tubing ultimately led to litigation and a class action settlement. In addition to leaks at fittings, and Carson (2015) raised a question of the possibility that the aluminum core of Kitex tubing might have had a role in the corrosion of the tubing fittings. We did not find research describing that mechanism but there is extensive research on the role of dezincification in brass fitting leakage or blockage.

[Image at left courtesy Carson Dunlop Associates] 

Because Kitec PEX fittings were used widely across the U.S. and under other names (below) in areas of Canada, the risk of plumbing leaks due to corrosion (dezincification) at these brass-to-PEX connectors & fittings continues in homes where they have not been replaced.

A settlement agreement resolving class action claims has been completed:

The Settlement involves a one hundred and twenty five million U.S. dollar (US$125,000,000) Settlement Fund (including attorneys' fees and costs) to be used for the benefit of Class Members to pay for the repair of buildings, homes, residences, or any other structures with a Kitec System. - Kitec settlement website cited below.

OPINION: from a literature review [DF - through March 2015] it appears that the Kitec® brass connector failure problem involves the same dezincification mechanism that continues to worry experts world wide - discussed at PEX BRASS CONNECTOR LEAKS where we explain the meringue dezincification problem - an artifact of the interaction of brass piping connectors and the chemistry of a building's water supply including the water pH and the level of chlorine. In addition we would ask if there are nicks or cuts in the PEX coatings over the tubing's aluminum core additional corrosive reactions may occur leading to damage to the tubing itself.

How to Identify Kitec or IPEX Plastic PEX Piping Connectors & Fittings

Kitec IPEX orange water piping imageCheck for the presence of KITEC fittings or IPEX fittings in these locations:

Watch out: Identification of Kitec or IPEX fittings may be possible in some homes by noting a yellow or neon-colored sticker affixed in the electrical box [presumably to warn electricians that the building water piping system cannot be reliably bonded to the building electrical ground system.]

However electrical ground warning stickers are widely used in buildings where any plastic water distribution piping was installed, not just where PEX and KITEC fittings were used. And the absence of a KITEC or plastic piping warning sticker in the electrical panel is no assurance that the building does not include plastic supply piping and/or Kitec fittings. [30]

The following illustrations of Kitec fittings can be viewed at the settlement website.

Kitec pipe fitting example from kitecsettlement.com Kitec pipe fitting example from kitecsettlement.com Kitec pipe fitting example from kitecsettlement.com Kitec pipe fitting example from kitecsettlement.com

Watch out: other brass plastic pipe fittings may have been used by some installers.

Watch out: for dezincification leaks at brass fittings with Kitec or other plastic piping systems. See PEX BRASS CONNECTOR LEAKS for details. Some researchers suggest that all brass fittings are at risk of dezincification leakage, occurring at rates varying with water chemistry, temperature, and usage.

The Kitec Class Action Settlement

Kitec piping class action noticeKitec plastic pipe [image at left] and fittings has agreed to settle class-action suits in the United States and Canada for $125 million. The piping system that is the subject of this action was used in roughly 292,000 U.S. and Canadian homes beginning in 1995. Quoting

The lawsuits arise from allegedly defective Kitec Systems manufactured or distributed by or on behalf of the IPEX Defendants, and installed within buildings, residences, homes, and other structures in various places in the United States and Canada.

Plaintiffs who brought the lawsuits and who seek to represent the Class are property owners in the United States and Canada with buildings, residences, homes, or other structures that contain or contained the Kitec System.

Plaintiffs who originally brought the lawsuits allege that the Kitec System is or may be defective because it could prematurely fail resulting in leaks or damage to the structure. The Class Actions seek money damages together with attorneys' fees and costs of suit from the IPEX Defendants on behalf of all Class Members.

The Class Actions do not seek any damages for personal injury, and the Settlement does not affect claims for such damages. Proceeds from the Settlement, after attorneys' fees and costs have been paid, will be used for the benefit of Class Members under Court supervision.[3]

Other Names & Synonyms for Kitec Plastic Pipe

Kitec was also sold in Canada for a time under the trademarks "IPEX Aqua", "IPEX Homerite", and under the more generic name "PEX-Al-PEX" (for PEX - polyethylene crosslinked - Aluminum - PEX). - Wikipedia [30]

For settlement purposes only, the Settling Parties have agreed to the Courts’ certification of the following classes of Persons in regard to claims regarding the Kitec System (which may consist of components, individual parts, or as a system, PEX-AL-PEX, PE-AL-PE, PERT-AL-PERT, PEX pipe, valves, fittings, and/or components, manufactured by or on behalf of IPEX whether sold under the names Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls, Plomberie Améliorée or otherwise). Photos of the Kitec System are available for your review at www.kitecsettlement.com. - retrieved 21 April 2015, original source: Kitec class action settlement notice at http://www.kitecsettlement.com/docs/Notice.pdf

Kitec Kytec IPEX Class Action settlement details

The settlement covers properties where Kitec plumbing (typically blue plastic for cold water lines and orange for hot water lines) was used in both the U.S. and Canada (excluding Clark County NV, the subject and area of a previous Kitec pipe plumbing failure case in the mid-1990s.).

The [Kitec Kytec Qitec IPEC Class Action] Settlement creates a one hundred and twenty five million U.S. dollar (US$125,000,000) Settlement Fund (less attorneys’ fees and costs set forth below) to be used for the benefit of the Class to pay for the repair of buildings, residences, homes or other structures plumbed with the Kitec System. Any money paid from the Settlement Fund to members of the Settlement Classes will be paid in the class member’s local currency.

The Plan Of Allocation describes the amounts and conditions of the benefits to the Class. NOTE: To be eligible to receive any money from the Settlement Fund, you must complete and submit the Claim Form accompanying the Notice available on the Case Documents page. The claim filing deadline is January 9, 2020.

After the Claims Deadline, any funds remaining in the Settlement Fund after all payments to those Class Members filing proper Claim Forms, will be returned to the IPEX Funding Entities. Claims made after the Claims Deadline will be rejected.
- retrieved 9/11/14, original source http://www.kitecsettlement.com/faq.cfm

There are also distinctive brass connecting fittings (photos at the Kitec website). After attorneys fees, administrative costs and payments to the class representatives in the suit, more than $93 million is expected to be available for claims.

The distribution plan anticipates two payment steps, starting with an eight-year period for initial claims based simply on the cost of repairing or replacing the broken pipe or failed fitting. If there’s money left over after the first phase, a second, pro-rated, payment would be sent out to offset the costs of having the plumbing replaced or cover other uncompensated damages.

People must decide if they’re in or out of the settlement by Sept, 30, 2011 and if they opt out, must notify the judge and attorneys for both sides in writing. Judges in Dallas, and in two Canadian provinces will hold fairness hearings on the proposed settlement between Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, 2011. A website has been set up to administer the settlement, as we detail just below. Quoting:

ALL PERSONS THAT OWN, HAVE OWNED, LEASE, OR HAVE LEASED, AND ALL THOSE WHO HAVE OR MAY PURSUE CLAIMS THROUGH OR IN THE NAME OR RIGHT OF THEM, buildings, HOMES, RESIDENCES, OR ANY OTHER STRUCTURES IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA THAT CONTAIN, OR AT ANY TIME CONTAINED, KITEC PLUMBING SYSTEMS AND/OR COMPONENTS. YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED WHETHER YOU ACT OR CHOOSE NOT TO ACT. PLEASE READ THIS WEBSITE CAREFULLY. [3]

More information on Kitec plumbing: call 1-877-337-1293;
Kitec Settlement Website: http://www.kitecsettlement.com/contactus.cfm

Kitec class action settlement notice [PDF]

For deliveries via courier:
Kitec Claims Administrator
3301 Kerner Blvd
San Rafael, CA 94901
OR Canadian Kitec Claims Administrator
633 Colbourne Street, Suite 300
London ON N6B 2V3
For deliveries via postal service:
Kitec Claims Administrator
PO Box 6001
Larkspur, CA 94977-6001
OR Canadian Kitec Claims Administrator
PO Box 3355
London ON N6A 4K3

Kitec class action settlement deadline for Canadian & U.S. Homeowners

As of the latest information we have found, Canadian & U.S. homeowners wishing to file a claim to participate in the Kitec® PEX settlement needed to file a claim by 9 January 2020.

To be eligible for settlement benefits, you must file a Claim Form prior to the claim filing deadline. The claim filing deadline is January 9, 2020. You will not receive a payment if you do not submit a timely and complete Claim Form. - Kitecsettlement cited below

Kitec Claims Administrator Contact Information

The Kitec class action legal counsel can be contacted at:

Research on Kitec® Pipe Patents, Uses, Performance, Failures

Kitec-Related Patents

Article Series Contents

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Continue reading at PLASTIC PIPE LEAK CAUSES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see PEX BRASS CONNECTOR LEAKS for history & current status of brass connector leaks in PEX piping systems

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